Starting from the study of the hydrographic system of the Vicenza territory, this thesis investigates new scenarios of landscape reconfiguration of a hydraulic infrastructure: a lamination basin on the Bacchiglione river on the edge of the city of Vicenza. A ‘public work included among the interventions included in the “Plan of actions and interventions for the mitigation of hydraulic and geological risk” of the Veneto Region, corrected after the flood that hit the territory of Vicenza in 2010. The work is divided into 2 phases. The first cognitive and interpretive included in-depth studies of hydraulic infrastructure regulations, study of urban drainage systems, interpretive readings of the area, and identification of case studies. A second phase of inventive type and prefiguration of possible landscape arrangements, was aimed at the elaboration of design solutions applied at different spatial and temporal scales, with the goal of transforming the reservoir and its surroundings into a multifunctional peri-urban park. In addition to the creation of the flood-controlled areas, the intervention aims to increase the ecological and environmental quality of a “peri-urban edge” and to return to the community a public park area suitable for hosting recreational and outdoor living activities.

The water emergency and its effects on urban contexts constitutes not only an aspect of great crisis affecting the entire contemporary world, but also a very important opportunity for the design of Architecture. In the last ten/twenty years the phenomenon of urban flooding, an ancient phenomenon, but made more and more frequent by climate change, has led to the realization, of a great number of projects in the city, to important experiments, as much technical as spatial and environmental. In fact, there exists today a field of study and design application that could be called the “contemporary water infrastructure,” in which the role of the architect is at the forefront. With the aim of opening up and popularizing more and more this design field, the thesis, which illustrates a “type” project of this subject intends on the one hand to present important design insights, and on the other hand to decline precise strategies of intervention in the contemporary city. The thesis is not only addressed to planners but also to those who deal more generally with land planning and management, such as technicians and administrators, to whom it intends to provide tools for understanding the relevance of the broad phenomenon and the possibilities in place.

This area, in its current state is not connected to the city of Vicenza; therefore, it was necessary to ask how to connect the areas of the three municipalities to what would become a public park with strong attraction and use. Starting with urban-level studies, the main connection routes were analyzed and enhanced with bicycle lanes where the road section allowed and new tree plantings, thus creating greenways that could link the park with the most sensitive areas of the 3 municipalities. Another issue regarding connections was that of parking, which was necessary to allow people to reach this area independently by their own means. In order to facilitate people who live in very distant places or to help the elderly or people in difficulty, new parking lots were designed that in a capillary manner would fit on the embankment perimeters of the basins so as to make access to the basin immediate and easy. Another key issue has been to make the entire basin usable and not just leave the edges of the embankments to citizens. Almost the entire area of the basins is used and so makes it possible to get from one side to the other without having to walk the entire perimeter of the park.

The first type of intervention includes artificially formed vertical levees often found in urban centers. Bank walls serve both as flood protection and as reinforcement of levees. Most were built centuries ago and thus exist in the context of a historic center or former industrial and port areas. A special situation is that of rivers that, after being completely banished to underground culverts, are now illuminated with daylight. The effect of these high, vertical banks, between which water is forced and flows far below ground level, is that rivers have effectively disappeared from the urban landscape. The water level at the middle/low level is so insignificant that it is barely noticeable. However, it is precisely these river scenarios that are of crucial importance for urban transformation and the development of high-quality open spaces within the city.

The new Ulmo Park is presented as a hybrid system that includes, within itself various functions. The park does not consist of a single monofunctional area but rather allows a variety of activities to take place within it. First issue of fundamental importance was to leave, within the basin, large areas for agricultural use that allow farmers to carry out their work activities. The agricultural areas also were placed on the highest and most favorable areas of the basin so that they would be the last to fill in when it was necessary to laminate the river water. This solution allows both the carrying out of normal agricultural activities but also allows casual users to open a wide view of the agricultural reality of the Veneto region.

Another fundamental theme has been to work on landforms and orographic plays. This approach was at the heart of the entire project, in fact for each basin four different situations were assumed based on the amount of water present in the basins. Depending on the amount of water in the basins, in fact, new spaces and new paths are created; these places will not always be 100% usable, but precisely because of the careful design of the heights and the design of the contour lines, the basins are never completely unusable.

In addition to the normal four lamination basins, a large floodplain area has been envisioned in the northern part of the park to serve as the first element of water expansion. Another floodplain area, on the other hand, is assumed in the southern part of the basin; this new area is designed to compensate for the volume of lamination that was lost in the earthfills for the embankments and also for the inclusion of vegetation that together go to take away expansion volume. This volume subtracted from the total capacity of the basin is precisely returned by this large area created near the fourth and final lamination basin.

Within the basin there are multiple areas that are created, both for recreation and information; in fact, it was important to use materials that could withstand wetlands or even completely submerged areas. The same design attitude was used in the choice of vegetation that could partially compact the soil and also withstand short periods of submergence.

In terms of vegetation, the species chosen were chosen by repurposing a natural habitat similar to that of the resurgences of the Bacchiglione River, which is located just north of Ulmo Park. A lot of herbaceous and shrub species are used that can compact the soils and also purify the incoming water and return it more slowly and cleanly. As for the trees there is an almost permanent use of fourth- and third-size species, both to avoid problems caused by wind or the roots of large trees but also so as not to go taking too much volume away from the capacity of the basins.

This large lamination basin thus becomes for the citizens of the municipalities of Vicenza, Caldogno and Costabissara a large and varied public park where it is possible to spend one’s free time orbiting around three large municipalities in the province of Vicenza. Thanks also to the new greenways and bicycle paths, it becomes easy to connect all the other lamination basins into one large suburban public green system that has the task of defending the city of Vicenza from flooding but also performs an important ecological function in lowering temperatures the enhancement of biodiversity and the abatement of CO2.

Project details

Design: Giacomo Premoli
Project Location: Vicenza, Italy
Tipologia: Urban park, lamination basin
Anno: 2021
Thesis title: Ulmo Park: A lamination basin as an opportunity for a new urban edge landscape in Vicenza
University: University of Florence
Degree course: Landscape Architecture
Supervisor: Prof. Anna Lambertini

Giacomo Premoli

Giacomo Premoli

Giacomo Premoli is a landscape architect from Vicenza, born in 1995. He began his university education at the IUAV in Venice, where he graduated in 2018, and then continued his studies at the University of Florence, where he followed the master’s degree course in Landscape Architecture. After completing his studies, he participated in various national and international competitions in the field of architecture and landscape architecture.